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Relevance Of Ed-techs For Conventional Courses

Even as our formal education setup continues to follow the conventional brick-and-mortar model, e-learning is finding a way into our classroom across the board.

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The education system in India often finds itself amid a debating storm over its inferior quality of learning, outdated curriculum, undue emphasis on rote learning and lack of adequate infrastructure. While we have a handful of premier institutes such as the IITs, IIMs and AIIMS to boast of in the realm of higher education, the overall robustness of our education system remains suspect.  

Even as our formal education setup continues to follow the conventional brick-and-mortar model, e-learning is finding a way into our classroom across the board. As everything else in our lives goes online, more and more educational institutes are warming up to the idea of embracing ed-tech tools to build a future-ready education system.  

Trends and projections  

As per a KPMG report, the e-learning market in India comprised 1.6 million users and was worth $247 million in the year 2016. The study projects that this market size is expected to register an eight-fold growth in a span of five years, reaching 9.6 million users and a net worth of $1.96 billion by 2021. This growth rate places us as the second-largest e-learning market in the world, after US.

These figures are a testament to the growing acceptance toward ed-tech and a readiness to embrace these tools to ramp up the quality of education. Today, online learning goes far beyond K-12 and formal higher education and extends to non-academic courses, preparation for competitive exams and professional upskilling. 

Drivers of growth  

Ed-tech tools are being incorporated into formal systems of learning at a swift pace, and this change can be attributed to the following factors:  

Smartphone and internet penetration  

The penetration of smartphones in the Indian market, coupled with easily accessible and affordable mobile data services, has opened up new horizons for e-learning in the country. An Economic Times report placed India’s mobile subscriptions at 1.2 billion in 2019. The number of internet users in the country is expected to touch 730 million this year. This accessibility has given a wide range of options for online learning for the young demographic, allowing them to leverage e-learning modules to pursue courses of their interest without disrupting their lives or incurring huge debts.  

Affordability  

A decent formal education in India doesn’t come cheap. Today, parents spend anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per annum for primary education in private schools. Higher education, especially professional degrees in fields such as engineering and medicine, is far more exorbitant. Figures released by the National Sample Survey Office in 2015 placed the increase in the cost of education at 175 per cent. These figures are sure to have amplified further in the past five years. Ed-tech tools in formal education setups can help bring down the cost of education by cutting back on recurring expenditures. The benefits of these cost savings can be passed down to the end-users in the form of more affordable yet quality education.  

Conducive Government policies  

Government policies such as Skill India and Digital India focus on cultivating an atmosphere of digital literacy and skill-based education. Supplementary schemes within the national education policy such as e-Basta, e-education, SWAYAM that promotes MOOCs-based curriculum secondary school onward, Nand Ghars that rely on the use of digital tools for teaching, and India Skills Online, a portal for online skill training, all encourage augmenting traditional classroom learning with ed-tech tools.  

The way forward  

Going forward, the education sector is likely to undergo an unprecedented transformation that’d be marked by the following trends:  

Hybrid education models  

The convergence of traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms and online learning will be complete and seamless. E-learning modules will be used to supplement formal education through e-tutorials, live projects, group discussions, after-schools coaching and online internships.  

Introduction of new subjects  

Ed-tech tools will also be leveraged to introduce new disciplines such as cloud computing, digital marketing, data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, as well as offbeat curriculums such as cyber law, forensics, culinary management to help create a crop of future-ready young professionals.  

Gamified learning  

To make learning more engaging and interesting for the students, ed-tech tools can be leveraged to introduce an element of gamification informal education. Features such as quizzes, games, badges, leader boards may be used to make learning more rewarding.  

Collaborative learning  

Ed-tech tools will also help promote an atmosphere of collaborative learning through a peer-to-peer model that encourages sharing of notes, exchange of ideas and insights through a common portal.

Customised learning  

The biggest advantage of e-learning tools is its ability to tailor curriculums according to performance, abilities and goals of each learner. In the future, this ability can be enhanced further with the help of technologies such as big data, analytics and AI.  

Ed-tech holds a lot of promise in transforming our traditional models of education. While it is unlikely to ever replace traditional formal models of learning, the two can co-exist in tandem to enhance the quality and accessibility of education. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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